Early Neutral Evaluations (ENE)-This is a court-ordered dispute resolution process in which the Evaluators explain the probable outcome of litigation to the parents. ENE is not mediation. ENE requires the participation of each parent and his/her attorney. Typically, only one ENE session is conducted in a case. An ENE session is scheduled for three hours. Three weeks prior to the ENE session, each parent must submit his/her Parenting Perspective Brief to the Court and to the opposing parent. At the ENE session, the Evaluators will oversee the discussion to allow each parent and his/her attorney the opportunity to be heard in an atmosphere of cooperation and respect. Once the information is gathered, the Evaluators will meet privately to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each parent’s position and probable outcomes if the parents litigate the issues. The Evaluators present this feedback to the parents and their counsel at the end of the session. Any agreement reached during an ENE session is not binding on the parents until it is signed by both parents and approved by the Court. All communication during the ENE session is confidential. There is no charge for the ENE session.
Mediation-The Court may order the parents to participate in Mediation, to assist the parents with discussing and, hopefully resolving, parenting disputes. The parents may attend the mediation session(s) with counsel or another representative. Most parents, however, elect to attend the session(s) without involving counsel or third parties. Any agreement reached during mediation is not binding on the parents until it is signed by both parents and approved by the Court. Mediation on parenting only is available through Clermont County Domestic Relations Court, or private mediators. Each mediation session is about two hours. Most cases are completed within one to three sessions. All communication during the mediation session(s) is confidential. There is no charge for mediation sessions conducted at the Court. For a list of attorneys that have completed the required training to mediate domestic relations court cases, click here.
Guardian Ad Litem (GAL)-The Court may appoint a GAL to protect the best interest of the child(ren). The GAL will gather and assess all information and perform all responsibilities set forth in Rule 48 of The Rules of Superintendence. The GAL develops an ongoing relationship with the child(ren) in order to advocate for their best interest in Court. The Court appoints a GAL from a roster of eligible candidates maintained by the Court. The GAL deposit is $1,500, either paid by one parent or split between the parents. From the deposit, the GAL is paid $125 per hour for his/her billable time plus expenses. The parents may be ordered to pay additional deposits as needed to pay the GAL fees and expenses. The GAL serves until the case ends.
Parental Investigation-The Court may order parents to submit to a Parenting Investigation, to assist the Court in determining the child(ren)’s best interest. The Court’s parenting specialist will evaluate each parent’s behavior, conduct, communication, family relationships, and criminal and Children’s Protective Services history. In addition, the parenting specialist considers each parent’s wishes and concerns in making written recommendations to the Court. The investigation fee is $250, either paid by one parent or split between the parents. Each parent completes a Parenting Questionnaire prior to their interview with the parenting specialist. The parents are interviewed separately; each interview is approximately two hours. The parenting specialist may also interview the children, depending on their ages. The parenting specialist may consult with other professionals who have had involvement with either parent and/or children, such as medical providers, educators, and child care providers. It requires about 90 days to complete a Parenting Investigation.